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Rune NyordAssistant Professor


  • Ph.D., University of Copenhagen, 2010


Rune Nyord is Assistant Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Emory University. Before joining Emory in 2018, he held positions at the University of Copenhagen, University of Cambridge (Christ's College), and the Free University Berlin. His research focuses on conceptions and experiences of representation, ontology, and personhood in ancient Egypt, especially as evidenced in Middle Kingdom (Middle Bronze Age, early 2nd millennium BCE) funerary culture, and drawing on a combination of archaeological and textual sources.

Research Interests

  • Ancient Egyptian mortuary religion and funerary culture
  • Ancient Egyptian conceptions and experiences of images, conceptions of personhood and the body
  • Anthropological and cognitive approaches to ancient material culture and texts
  • History of Egyptology, especially the history of interpretations of Egyptian religion

Selected Publications


Seeing Perfection: Ancient Egyptian Images beyond Representation

Seeing Perfection: Ancient Egyptian Images beyond Representation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Breathing Flesh

Breathing Flesh: Conceptions of the Body in the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, CNI Publications no. 37, 2009)

Edited Volumes

Concepts in Middle Kingdom Funerary Culture

Concepts in Middle Kingdom Funerary Culture [Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, volume 102], ed. Rune Nyord (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2019)

Egyptology and AnthropologyEgyptology and Anthropology. Historiography, Theoretical Exchange and Conceptual Development: Proceedings of the Lady Wallis Budge Symposium held at the University of Cambridge, 25-26 July 2017, eds. Kathryn Howley and Rune Nyord (Tucson: University of Arizona, 2018)
Special issue of the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, no. 17. Open Access at:
Lotus and LaurelLotus and Laurel. Studies in Egyptian Language and Religion in Honour of Paul John Frandseneds. Rune Nyord and Kim Ryhold (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, CNI Publications no. 39, 2015)
Being in Ancient Egypt

Being in Ancient Egypt. Thoughts on Agency, Materiality, and Cognition: Proceedings of the seminar held in Copenhagen, September 29-30 2006, eds. Rune Nyord and Annete Kjølby (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2009), British Archaeological Reports International Series, 2019. 


Recent Articles and Book Chapters

The Letter to Nebetitef on her First Intermediate Period Stela in the Michael C. Carlos Museum,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 107 (2021), OnlineFirst.

Motile mythologies. (Re)constituting ancient Egyptian ritual knowledge in the early 2nd millennium BCE,” in Wissensoikonomien: Ordnung und Transgression in vormodernen Kulturen, eds. G. Ullmann, N. Pissis, and N. Schmidt (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2021), 199–210

“Post til en afdød: Nebetitefs genfundne brev [Mail for a deceased person: The rediscovered letter to Nebetitef]," Papyrus: Ægyptologisk Tidsskrift 41, no. 1 (2021): 22–29.

On Interpreting Ancient Egyptian Funerary Texts,” in New Trends in Egyptology, ed. J. C. Moreno García, Claroscuro 19, no. 2 (2020): 1–23

Texts for healing and protection,” in The Oxford Handbook of Egyptology, eds. I. Shaw and E. Bloxam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 1039–1052

The Nile in the Hippopotamus: Being and becoming in faience figurines of Middle Kingdom Egypt,” in Images in the Making: Art, Process, Archaeology, eds. A.M. Jones and I.-M. Back Danielsson (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020), 19–33

Experiencing the dead in ancient Egyptian healing texts,” in Cultural Systems of Classification: Sickness, Health and Local Epistemologies, ed. U. Steinert (London and New York: Routledge, 2020), 84–106

Servant figurines from Egyptian tombs: Whom did they depict, and how did they work?” Ancient Near East Today 8, no. 2 (2020)

(older works available on

Current Projects

Rune Nyord’s current book project examines the history of the Egyptological notion of the ancient Egyptian ‘quest for eternal life’. Arguing that important details of this framework stem more from 19th-century expectations than from ancient Egyptian sources, the book explores the possibility of deriving an alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding Egyptian mortuary religion from the ancient sources themselves.